sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2015-04-19 11:57 pm
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And see all those lovely fourteenth-century ceilings?

One week after launching, my Patreon has reached $200 a month. That means all backers get the collected e-book of reviews at the end of the year. People who know who you are, thank you so much. This is wonderful.

(I am now taking suggestions for a next milestone goal. More poetry? More reviews? I'm pretty sure I can't ask to do this full-time, but I would like to know what readers want. This remains an entirely new model of funding for me.)

The 76-minute original cut of Baby Face (1933) is amazing. I don't know if I'd even call it sordid—sexually outspoken, devastatingly cynical, with one of the most triumphantly bump-and-grindy musical leitmotivs I've heard in a long time. Every time Barbara Stanwyck's Lily Powers sleeps her way up another floor of the towering phallic skyscraper of the Gotham Bank, we get a bar of the brassy, strutting "St. Louis Blues," introduced earlier in the film by Theresa Harris' Chico. St. Louis woman with her diamond rings, oh, Lord, she leads that man of mine by her apron strings . . . For much of its runtime, the film clocks along like a comedy, inviting the audience to enjoy watching cool operator Lily game the patriarchy—for every new employee who thinks he's sneaking a perk on the side, there's another, poorer sap reeling in Lily's unrepentant wake, stone cold straight to the top. Her emotional damage is real, but so is the film's frank delight at seeing a once-victimized woman take the system that hurt her for everything she can get. I'm not surprised it couldn't pass the New York State Censorship Board. We're not meant to feel sorry for any of the men. It's unsentimental until the denouement and even then our heroine doesn't collapse into a heart of gold; nor is she punished, much as the censored version tried to give her an unhappy ending. I'm trying to think if this is the earliest film I've seen where a survivor of sexual abuse and a full-scale fallen woman gets a happy ending. The story also contains a black character who is not a stereotype and life advice from Nietzsche that actually works out. I'll try to write something more coherent tomorrow. Right now I'm just really impressed.